EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story contains graphic descriptions which may not be suitable for some readers
Fifteen seconds of “demented selfishness” tore apart a special mother-son relationship, a woman told Newmarket court Thursday.
With tears streaming down her face, she read a victim impact statement in the case of Wayne MacDonald, 48, who was convicted in April of sexual interference involving a 12-year-old Bradford West Gwillimbury boy in 2015.
“One thing that haunts me to this day is, (my son said), ‘Mom, you said I could trust him,’” she told the court.
“This broke a very special bond. It was severed and no one can ever give that back to us. This is something that we’re going to have to live with for the rest of our lives. We shouldn’t have to cope. It’s not fair.”
The woman said she has developed migraines and now takes medication to cope with what happened; and the incident has been hard on her entire family.
“People questioned my ability to be a mother. No one wanted this to be real,” she said.
The woman said her son “has become a very angry young man,” who no longer trusts authority figures.
She said he has engaged in self harm, has nightmares, started failing school and abusing drugs and alcohol, has become sexually promiscuous, and has considered suicide.
“I want my life back. (My son) wants his life back. We can’t have that back,” she said.
“People like (MacDonald) ruin lives — not temporarily, but forever. It makes everything light dark and everything beautiful ugly. It forces you to look at the whole world through shit-coloured glasses.”
While she read her statement, her son hugged a friend and wept, getting up to hug his mom when she was finished speaking.
He also submitted a victim impact statement, which was read silently by Justice Christopher De Sa, as the victim did not wish it to be read on the record.
Throughout the readings, MacDonald, dressed in dark pants, green-striped shirt and glasses, sat quietly. He took notes during Thursday’s proceedings.
In light of how much MacDonald’s actions impacted the victim and his family, Crown Attorney Jenna Dafoe is asking he receive two years jail time, with some conditions, including three years probation and a DNA order.
Defence Attorney Kim Schofield is seeking nine to 12 months.
MacDonald is also facing three new charges of breach of recognizance of bail conditions after allegedly interacting with youth under age 16 in May 2017. Those charges are not expected to be heard until next year.
The mandatory minimum for sexual interference cases is one year.
The laws surrounding removing mandatory minimum sentences are still before the Superior Courts, with arguments expected to be made Friday at the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Dafoe cited a few previous child sex abuse cases to demonstrate how sentencing was shaped by the lasting effects on the victims, despite each being single incidents of abuse and the abusers being first-time offenders with records of good behaviour. Each example was from before mandatory minimum sentences were imposed.
One case involved a 33-year-old man, who touched a 13-year-old boy, with no penetration. He received a sentence of two years.
“That is the starting point in this case,” Dafoe said.
“Sentences are going up; they’re not going down. These offences have a substantial impact. A one-off event can and does have significant impacts on children.”
Schofield argued the incident in this case is a “relatively minor sexual offence” — it lasted 15 seconds and did not involve penetration — and noted MacDonald did not previously have a criminal record.
Citing some examples, she argued sentencing in sexual interference cases are typically around the one-year mark.
“The range is not two years,” she said. “This is on the lower end of seriousness, so that’s why I’m suggesting nine to 12 (months).”
Schofield also argued credit should be given to MacDonald for having been in “restrictive” house arrest since the incident in November 2015.
She said MacDonald was fired due to the charge against him, and he had to rent out his Keswick home and move in with his parents, who live in the same neighbourhood.
He was only allowed to leave their home if accompanied by his mom or stepfather, or if he had a signed note written by his mother outlining the specifics of where and when he was allowed to be out alone.
Called to the stand, MacDonald said he was unable to find work because his parents did not have the Internet and his mother would not write him a note to go drive around looking for work.
His mother, he added, eventually found him a job working for a family friend; he kept that job for three months.
MacDonald said his parents put him in charge of all the gardening, they went grocery shopping once or twice a week, and went on other outings such as to medical appointments two to three times a week.
He and his parents also went on a trip to St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market and a boat cruise in Kingston, while visiting his son there.
The outings were “not really my cup of tea,” he said, adding his parents were not interested in the activities in which he was interested.
MacDonald was allowed to do maintenance at his property for his tenants, if his mother joined him or gave him written permission.
However, in May 2017, MacDonald was charged with three new offences after allegedly interacting with the young children of his tenants. The charge states he was at the home without his mother and did not have a note from her allowing him to be there.
After this, McDonald said he had to sell his house, which was “very depressing for me because I had designed and built the house.”
“Before the arrest and stuff, I was very active,” he said, citing work, driving to Newmarket for activities, walking and hiking, and visiting his son in Kingston about once a month.
“The first year (of house arrest) was very rough. To have an adult child come back in under the circumstances (I did) ... was really difficult. There were tensions in there to do household activities,” he said. “I felt isolated, alone. I gained weight. I’ve been suffering silently from depression.”
While Schofield called MacDonald’s bail conditions “life altering,” Dafoe argued the bail was not strict.
“Even if you don’t like the activities, if you’re in a jail cell you can’t go to the market in St. Jacob’s,” she said. “(Minimum two years) is the appropriate sentence that sends a message to Mr. MacDonald, to the community.”
MacDonald is expected to be sentenced in October in Newmarket court.